What Do I Do if I Have a Car Accident?
If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, take a deep breath and then:
• Stop the car and call 911.
• If able to do so, exchange license and insurance information with everyone involved in the accident.
• Take photos of the accident scene, location of the vehicles, license plates and car damage.
• If there are any witnesses, try to get their names.
After the accident scene is cleared:
• Report the accident to your own auto insurance company.
• If needed, seek medical attention.
• Obtain a No-Fault claim application form from your own auto insurance company. NYS No-Fault claims must be filed within 30 days of the accident.
• If you are a passenger, submit your claim to the insurance company of the owner/driver of the vehicle.
If you have sustained an injury and need assistance with any or all of the above, our law firm offers to our clients such assistance at no cost.
How do I choose a personal injury attorney?
Being involved in a legal matter and hiring an attorney to help you is a very personal experience. There are a few steps you should take into account when making the critical decision to hire the right personal injury attorney:
• Do not rely on television and radio ads. Do your own research.
• Contact your chosen law firm/attorney as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to determine your legal rights before critical evidence disappears. Make sure you speak with an attorney and your appointment is made to meet with an attorney. Do not accept an appointment with a paralegal, legal assistant or intake clerk. Only an attorney can give legal advice.
• When you make the appointment, ask and be assured that the specific attorney you are scheduled to meet with will be the attorney personally involved with your case until it is resolved. A large part of your experience with an attorney derives from your relationship, so chemistry and continuity are very important.
• Discuss the fee arrangement. Also, ask about anticipated costs and disbursements and how they are to be advanced and reimbursed. Be sure to find out that in the event there is no recovery whether you are responsible to reimburse the law firm for their out-of-pocket expenses. Some law firms require the repayment of these expenses. We do not.
• Read your retainer agreement carefully before signing. You should be cautious of signing any written retainer agreement that provides that in the event you change attorneys you are obligated to pay specific itemized sums of money for the legal services rendered by that law firm up to the time of discharge. Ours does not.
• If you have any hesitation about hiring the attorney you meet with, do not be pressured into signing the agreement.
It is also important to know that after you have retained a personal injury attorney, you have the right to discharge that attorney and retain another attorney in place of the original one if you are unhappy with your representation, even after the claim is put into suit. If you decide to change attorneys, the new attorney should reimburse the outgoing attorneys for their out-of-pocket expenses to obtain the release of your file. Your percentage of the recovery is not affected.
Gelber & O’Connell, LLC • 716-633-5050 • www.gelberoconnell.com • 6512 Main Street • Buffalo, NY 14221
Photo: Stephanie Gelber, Esq. has been practicing law for over 35 years, having joined Gelber & O’Connell, LLC as its managing attorney in 2010. Gelber & O’Connell, LLC, located in Amherst, has been assisting injured clients with their car accident and other injury claims for over 20 years.